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ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

19 July 2002

THAILAND - US-BASED GROUP TO COUNTER 'NGO BIAS'

According to the article, "Ms Panatta said the office was surveying public attitudes towards GMOs and had no ties with biotechnology multinational companies". In reality, ISAAA get a big chunk of their money from the biotech industry. Donors have included Aventis, Monsanto, Novartis, and Pioneer Hi-Bred. Monsanto were on the board/Novartis still are. See also: ISAAA in Asia -- Promoting Corporate Profit in the Name of the Poor - GRAIN briefing - October, 2000
http://www.grain.org/publications/isaaa-en.cfm

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US-based group to counter 'NGO bias': Critics say it is a tool of biotech industry

http://scoop.bangkokpost.co.th/bkkpost/2002/apr2002/BP20020406/News/06Apr2002_news24.html
Kultida Samabuddhi

A United States-based organisation has set up a regional office in Bangkok  to promote genetic engineering technology and counter sentiment against the  idea.

"Anti-GMOs groups have flooded the country with information about the  adverse effects of GE-technology. We will prove that the technology is not  as bad as they have claimed," said Panatta Junchai.

The director of the International Service for the Acquisition of  Agri-Biotech Application, or Isaaa Thailand, said the Bangkok office was  set up because GMOs had been debated heatedly here and NGOs were very active.  NGOs opposed to biotechnology had spread biased and unsound information,  she said.

Isaaa, she said, was an academic organisation working closely with Thai  scientists from the National Science and Technology Development Agency,  which supported GE technology.

Its website says ISAAA works on forming partnerships between wealthy and  developing countries to enable the transfer of biotechnology applications  to poor farmers.

Ms Panatta said the office was surveying public attitudes towards GMOs and  had no ties with biotechnology multinational companies, although its  website says Isaa is funded partly from donations from biotech firms.

Witoon Lianchamroon, director of Biothai, an NGO working on biodiversity conservation, insisted Isaaa was a tool of the biotech industry.

Its aim was to generate the right business climate to facilitate the industry's expansion into developing countries, he said.

"Isaaa's goal, to eliminate Asian farmers' poverty by using biotechnology,  will make conditions worse for small farmers because the technology is  controlled by multinational agribusiness whose interests are contrary to  farmer needs," Mr Witoon said.

Isabella Meister, Greenpeace International campaigner, said Isaaa lacked  transparency. Its operations in Asia were funded by several biotech  companies, including Cargill and Monsanto in the US, and Switzerland's  Novartis.

Isaa and its biotech partners were worried about Thailand's strong stance  against GMOs.

"Thailand is the only country in the region that has formulated a clear  policy about GMOs, such as a ban on the import and commercial plantation of  GM seeds,'' she said.

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